Tuesday, October 14, 2014

2014 Chicago Marathon Recap

The 2014 edition of the Chicago Marathon was my 2nd attempt at the race as well as just my 2nd marathon ever. It's hard to put into words everything that occurred since there was so much good and bad leading up to and through the race. I made the best out of everything and am still happy with the results. I know I can still do better and will be tackling the distance again in less than 3 weeks in NYC.

Monday - Wound up getting a root canal.  This left me unable to eat most the day and sore for several more. Over night on Monday a construction crew power washed the building across the street from me from 10PM until 6AM. The noise rattled my windows and I barely slept.

Tueday - Spent the day going back and forth with the construction company, the alderman's office, and the department of transportation over the night time noise issues.  It is agreed that the power washing would occur from 9AM to 4PM. I'm a walking zombie by this point and I never make good food decisions when exhausted.

Wednesday - The noise started up at 7AM. After more back and forth it is found that the permit was issued in error for the wrong time. Fines were threatened, but never issued.

Thursday - Uneventful - yay!

Friday - Up earlier than normal for an 8AM dentist appointment to have my crown put in. Not as numb this time so I can eat sooner. Went to expo with Jennifer and spent a lot of time on my feet. Was pretty exhausted but still met up with R/iver R/unners for pizza, beer, and sign making. I stayed up too late and had too much to drink. Oops. At least I had fun.

Saturday - Was a lazy bum all day just trying to keep relaxed. Multiple naps were had. I think I ate too much pizza.

Sunday - Race day! I was up at 4AM and made it down to the start area obscenely early.  Had no problems getting through gear check and using the facilities. I camped out in a spot where the wind was blocked and just chilled. I finally dropped my bag at gear check and used the facilities one more time before heading to the corral. It was around here that I didn't feel quite right.  It was like I had to use the restroom but couldn't go.

Soon the race started and we were off. I had trained to run by heart rate, but I wasn't getting a good reading from my HRM. It showed that my HR was far higher than it should be, like I was running a 5K. I was still breathing and running easy so I knew it was off. I'd have to run by feel. Speaking of, it felt like my stomach was starting to twist into knots.  The first mile was a touch fast, but I evened it out with slower miles 2 and 3.  I hit the first 5K mark about 19 seconds slower than I had targeted.

The next 5K I started to realize that the race was going to be a grind. I was not finding a groove and the knots in the stomach were not going to settle. I ever so slightly picked up the pace, but was running slower than I had planned. Just past the 10K mark I spotted a friend who had made a sign for me. I wound up giving out several high 5s and wound up with my fastest mile of the day. I soon settle back into the pace I was assigned for the day and kept chugging along. Around mile 8 the negative thoughts creeped in. This wasn't my day. I could just pull out and save my legs. I was too stubborn though and kept going. I spotted Jennifer outside her place near the 15K mark. My 5K splits are pretty consistent so far. The fast mile put this one just a few seconds ahead of the others.

The trek from 15K to 20K took us back towards the loop. Unfortunately Elvis was singing a slow song as I passed him in Oldtown. I was hoping for a bit of a pick me up. It's now harder for me to take in fluids. After each aid station I have to fight the urge to bring the fluids back up as the stomach is not happy. I feel a bit claustrophobic running through downtown again as the spectators have invaded the street and all the runners get squeezed together. I feel better once we make the turn to head west. I hit the halfway point in 1:50:01 which put me on pace for a time that would of made me happy. I knew I wasn't going to hit 3:40 though since up to this point I had never fell into my stride and it was starting to show. I had burned through a lot of energy running inefficiently through the first half. It sucked not being able to get into proper posture and use my core the way I trained to.

I kept along from the halfway point until mile 16 or so before the legs started to get heavy. My pace slowed slightly, but I was still doing OK. I decided to use the restroom just before mile 18 and it relieved the strain on my kidneys, but not the stomach. I kept trucking until around mile 20. From here I started to take longer walking breaks through the aid stations. It was necessary to make sure I could get fluids and some nutrients without being sick.  I had missed the 2 beer aid stations due to being on the wrong side of the street. I'm sure the carbonation would of helped the stomach.

Once I hit the 40K mark I knew the end was near. I still had an outside shot of breaking 3:50, which was 10 minutes slower than the original goal, but still quite the achievement. I found a 2nd wind and started cruising again. I skipped the last aid station since it was too little too late by that point. I actually clocked an 8:30 mile from markers 25 to 26. When I saw the 800m sign I went charging.  This proved to be a mistake as I crashed hard halfway up Mt Roosevelt. My heart was ready to burst from my chest. I walked the rest of the way up the hill and saw I still had about a minute to hit sub 3:50. I went back into a run with all I had left. Nearing the line I saw I had time to spare and let off the gas slightly and crossed in 3:49:51.  The finisher's chute wasn't moving fast enough for me. My legs were still working surprisingly. I finally got my medal and water and whatnot and finally made it to get my beer. I savored it as I went and collected my gear bag.

I made my way to the post race finish area and found a clear spot of grass, put my space blanket down and just laid there for a couple minutes. I then changed into a dry shirt and got my stuff in order before catching up on social media.  I checked the tracker and saw how my friends were doing. I saw some others had finished and let them know where I was, but they all had different plans. After awhile I was starting to get sunburned so I packed up and headed home. I joked with a fellow runner getting off the EL that the real test started with descending the stairs. I kind of felt bad as I went down relatively normally without even using the hand rail while he tried to figure out which way to turn so it hurt less.

The post race time has been spent wondering what could have been.  I improved my time from last year by over 36 minutes, but I'm still left wondering what could of been had I not had the stomach problems.  I'm still really proud of the achievement and know another PR will be coming soon.


  1. Sucks about the stomach, but congrats on the massive PR and being able to finish sub-3:50 at the end. You'll have to update your PR page now! I had no problem going down the stairs when I got off the "L" after the race. However, the next morning it was difficult.:) It's good you have a marathon in a few weeks to try and get a solid (stomach-issue-free-race) race in. I don't think I could handle another marathon until the spring, although I would love to get a "revenge marathon" in sooner. Congrats again!

    1. I always fall behind on my PR and races pages. I forget to update them. I certainly hope to turn the next race into a revenge marathon. It's like Chicago was a grueling long run and I'm just heading into another taper period.

  2. I understand about the finisher chute moving too slow. OMG. I get it, everyone is tired, but if I have to go that slow, I'm going to sit down on the ground and the medics are going to have to come get me, lol

    Congrats on your PR! I guess we're just setting ourselves up for epic PRs in Vegas that will result in drinking for 2 days after? Well, twist my arm ;)

    1. We'll have to try and coordinate for same corral in Vegas. It'll be nice to at least get through some of the early race madness together. The drinks after will be well earned.

  3. Congrats on the sub-4! Sorry you had stomach issues though. Luckily you have two more chances to have the race you want!

  4. I guess it's better late than never. Root canals may be harrowing and all, but those should be dealt with as soon as the recommendation for them is made. The alternative, such as increased teeth and gum damage for example, is more unacceptable. So, it's always better to undergo the procedure earlier. Take care!

    George McEvoy @ Patrick McEvoy, DDS

  5. Root canal and a race marathon on the same week? No wonder you weren’t at your best shape during the run. That sickness must have been somewhat related to that, aside from the stomach bug. After all, you weren’t able to eat properly, because of you were still little sore from the procedure. Anyway, I hope you were able to rest and feel better soon after the race. Take care!

    Calandra Novak @ Mullaloo Dental Centre

  6. Awww! Stomach pain, plus the process of recovering from a root canal procedure while racing can really be draining. Good thing you made it well up until the end. I just hope that you're faring great nowadays. Thanks for sharing that, Eric! I wish you all the best!

    Sharon Woods @ Fall Spark Dentistry